Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

May 2011 Archives

The pull and the lure of anyone's alma mater is great. I don't think it matters if it is your old high school or college, be it big or small.

So Northwestern athletic director and Illinois alum Jim Phillips has got to have a huge knot in the pit of his stomach, wondering about the Illinois athletic director's vacancy.

On Monday, Illinois AD Ron Guenther announced his retirement after being in C-U for 19 years, the longest of any AD in the Big Ten. The university has a search committee in place, headed by Larry DeBrock who is the head of the university's College of Business -- and in a weird twist, DeBrock was my Econ 101 professor my freshman year at Illinois.

All the rumors and stories on the Internet that Phillips is probably Illinois' top candidate to replace Guenther should be taken seriously. Look at what Phillips has done in just three years at Northwestern:

* he put the football team on a huge national stage when they played Illinois at Wrigley Field last November

* he's locked up Pat Fitzgerald for the next 10 years with a new contract extension, providing consistency for the program and for Fitzgerald in recruiting

* he hired Mike Polisky to run the school's first-ever marketing division in the athletic department, helping to create a snappy and memorable slogan in "Chicago's Big Ten Team"

* he's spearheaded a facilities study that will determine which athletic facilities need either a major overhaul or to be replaced altogether

* he inked a home-and-home football series with Notre Dame and another with Stanford

* and he's got this infectious enthusiasm -- just like Fitz -- where he gets excited about all things NU.

Who wouldn't want to have someone like Jim Phillips running their athletic department?

Probably a lot of people, especially those who love orange and blue.

A source confirmed that Northwestern will play two night games at Ryan Field this season. The Michigan game on Oct. 8 and the Penn State game on Oct. 22 will both start at 6 p.m. The Big Ten will announce its full schedule of prime-time football games tonight.

Northwestern names Hardy associate head coach

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Northwestern men's basketball coach Bill Carmody announced Thursday that assistant Tavaras Hardy has been named associate head coach.

Hardy, a 2002 NU graduate, has coached at NU for five seasons. Hardy was a two-time All-Big Ten selection when he played for the Wildcats.

Where is former Northwestern RB Arby Fields now?

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Former Northwestern running back Arby Fields, who left the Wildcats in December, texted me Sunday night to say he's signed with LSU.

Fields, who played both football and baseball at NU, texted that he and LSU coaches have discussed the possibility of Fields playing both sports. But Fields is taking a "we'll see" approach about playing the two sports.

Fields transferred to Cypress (Calif.) College in January and played baseball for the Chargers this spring, leading the team in nearly every offensive category.

"I appreciate all my true fans and I'm off to bigger and better things in my career," Fields wrote in a text message."

Northwestern's John Shurna to stay in school

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          John Shurna isn't going anywhere.

            The Northwestern forward decided on Sunday that he will return to Evanston for his senior season, after participating in an NBA invitation-only workout in New Jersey over the weekend for 22 college players.

            The deadline for Shurna to withdraw his name from the NBA draft was Sunday. Shurna declared for the draft April 19 but did not hire an agent. The draft is June 23.

            "We had talked about [the draft] and I wanted him to do it and he wanted to do it," Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. "He wanted to get some feedback from all these different NBA guys."

            Carmody accompanied Shurna to the workout Saturday, which was hosted by the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks at the PNY Center. Carmody said he was fairly certain that all 30 NBA teams were represented.

            Carmody said Shurna handled the pressure of working out at the camp and was not awed by the situation. Carmody also said Shurna made the decision to stay in school early Sunday morning.

            When Shurna announced in April that he was declaring for the draft, the 6-8 Shurna was projected as either a second-round pick or going undrafted.

            Shurna started last season averaging 23.3 points per game before he suffered a high left ankle sprain in a victory against Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 23. After the injury, Shurna's shot suffered and his scoring production dropped.

            A concussion suffered at Minnesota on Jan. 26 was another setback for Shurna, and resulted in the Glenbard West alum sitting out for about a week.

            Shurna finally got his groove back late in the season and scored 20 or more points in the Wildcats' final three games of the season. He ended the season averaging 16.6 points.

            With point guard Michael Thompson graduating, Shurna is the top returner for the Wildcats in 2011-12.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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